Companies registered on the Registraire des Entreprises du Québec (the “Corporate Registry”) who report having between five and 49 employees are now required to disclose the proportion of employees in their organization who are not capable of communicating in French.
Companies completing their declaration of registration or initial declaration with the Corporate Registry will, as of June 1, 2023, be immediately subject to this disclosure requirement, provided they report having between five and 49 employees. Companies with this number of reported employees who are already registered on the Corporate Registry will be required to make this disclosure in their annual declaration or in any updating declarations that they are required to file with the Corporate Registry going forward.
In anticipation of the new provisions coming into effect, the Corporate Registry has published on its website what it considers to be an employee “capable of communicating in French”. Notably, the applicable law does not define the parameters for making such determination. In broad terms, the Corporate Registry indicates that, in its view, being “capable of communicating in French” boils down to the ability to complete tasks at work in French. This includes the capacity to understand instructions, attend meetings, receive training, draft documents and serve customers in French. Ultimately, the applicable criteria for making this determination will vary based on the positions held by employees as well as the tasks to which they are assigned.
While the absence of clear guidance in this respect creates uncertainty for employers now tasked with evaluating their employees’ levels of French proficiency, we expect that forthcoming information or regulations will provide more details about this requirement, the criteria to establish the capability of communicating in French, enforcement, sanctions and penalties.
We invite you to consult our previous publication here for more information on other important changes to French language obligations coming into effect in Quebec as of June 1, 2023.